12 To Many


FratelliLeita: Dolomites Harpsichords

FratelliLeita: Dolomites Harpsichords


Interview by Cesare Coppari

English translation by Marika Giacometti 

It is called 12-to-Many and it is a business network that links raw material to the market. It was born by Samuele Giacometti SaDiLegno, who developed it thanks to an innovative project supported also by the Autonomous Region Friuli Venezia Giulia. In this way at the heart of Dolomites, in the high part of Carnia, the first business network connecting the wood to the market came to life. 

“Unity creates job and enhances the talents of the area: 12-to-Many is the example that the Made in Italy is successful when it becomes a system”, said Symbola . Symbola is a Foundation that, together with Unioncamere, supports a survey published with the title “Coesione è competizione (Cohesion is Competition). In this survey 12-to-many is one of the twenty best practices along with Ferrero, Enel, and IMA Group.

12-to-Many is an example of creating job thanks to a marketing strategy focused on the belief that the value of a product is higher when it is produced next to the origin of its raw material. For this reason the slogan of this business network is “A light to unveil the real value: the materials’ origin (L’origine della materia, la luce del valore)”. However, the best advertisement is the real experience of one of the links of this business network, Alessandro and Michele Leita with their FratelliLeita enterprise.

Alessandro and Michele, How will you introduce your FratelliLeita?

We are two brothers with a great passion for music and craftsmanship. Thanks to these two loves, we meet the challenge of working as restorers and then producers of especially ancient musical instrument. Our enterprise is about the relation between the ear and the hand.

You have gone very far, since when you were simply restorers…

At the beginning, we worked generally as carpenters, so we worked also with furniture, and then we became musical instrument restorers. Later we decided to do something more connected with our passions. 

When and how will you start working as musical instrument producers?

December 2014 was the turning point. In that time, we accepted to realise a harpsichord, able to get the Chain of Custody PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Up to that time, no musical instrument producer has got that certification. This challenge was proposed to us by Samuele to carry out the “Strategic Plan” of 12-to-many business network. We are in this business network and we contributed to come it to light. This business network is focused on our products to foster the value and the use of local wood. We had only 3 months to build our first “Italian harpsichord after G.B. Giusti 1861” with transposition 415-440, disposition 2x8’, compass B’ - D’, because it had to be shown in the Autonomous Region Friuli Venezia Giulia booth at Milan MadeExpo on the 18th March 2015. To achieve that ambitious goal we worked especially at night, because during the day we went on working as usual in our business. It should be noticed that a harpsichord is not only a difficult wooden product, but it is also a musical instrument, so it has to have a harmonious sound. The sound depends on the soundboard and we used the ten years seasoned spruce wood. On the other words, the rapidity in making the harpsichord was counterbalanced by the slowness of the wood seasoning time, which gave to the musical instrument a harmonious sound and a long life.    

How important was the relation with 12-to-Many and the carrying out of the strategic plan together with the other links of the network?

It was very important especially to foster our business stronger and in much more fields. In this way, we quickened our transformation from restorers to producers. This relation highlighted also to other links of the network the importance of the local wood for the quality of our products. This wood comes from trees chosen before being cut down and it is worked carefully along all the transformation processes. Indeed to realise our harpsichord we could use the QFD method (Quality Function Deployment), thanks to the partnership between the 12-to-many business network and the ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development). This method assess the quality of the product and the right price. It was surprising to know the percentage of the importance of the strategic aspects as the choice of wood, the finding and the working for the quality. These characteristics were 72% of the quality of the musical instrument. According to this, the key of the business growth of FratelliLeita is the production of musical instrument in the same area of the raw material.

How was important the building of the first PEFC certificated harpsichord?

It was a very good idea and it helped us to highlight our will of building things made of local raw material and worked by ancient methods. We must protect these ancient methods, otherwise it will be the same as throwing away classical works. Some years ago, an Italian intellectual was astonished that some American intellectuals, without strong cultural fundamentals, developed theories based on new bibliography, without knowing that the same theory was better developed or was evaluated wrong centuries ago. It is the same for manual knowledge and sometimes you need to create nothing to realise a perfectly work in accordance with best practice. You have to renovate, but you have to know the past and doing this, you will discover that ancient artisans used local raw material, harpsichord producers included, even if they imported ebony. In this way, they respected also the environment. Today, we have a greater consciousness on environment, depending on a different way to exploit raw materials. For these reasons, we are proud for our first PEFC certificated harpsichord, but the idea needs a lot of time to blossom. 

What types of wood did you use to produce the first FratelliLeita harpsichord?

We used local wood as the spruce for the soundboard, walnut instead of ebony for black keys¸ white hornbeam instead of boxwood for white keys and pear wood for mechanical parts. All of these trees grow up in woods and meadows in Val Pesarina. I have to say that today some woods, as walnut, hornbeam and pear wood, used for important activities in the past, are employed in the “spolert”, the traditional Carnia wood stove to heat and cook.

Why did you receive a lot of recognition for handcraft and music?

It depends on our planning and producing choices that lead us in achieving a good quality in “harmony” and “mechanic” of our products. It is said by our clients and by many famous harpsichordist who played our instruments. We get a long way ahead of us, but a lot of time has passed since the first concert of our harpsichord organised in Milan by Federlegno Arredo (an Italian association of business which work generally in furniture sector), Conlegno (a consortium to preserve biodiversity and environmental heritage by fostering the wood use) and Italian PEFC. In 2015, you could find us at Milan Expo in KIP Pavillion, thanks to the network 12-to-Many project “Dai Sapori ai Saperi della Carnia (From flavours to knowledge of Carnia)”. Our instruments took part at Urbino Musica Antica (Urbino, Ancient music), organised by FIMA (Italian foundation for ancient music) and at “Historischer Instrumentenbau” in Vienna. In 2016 we are awarded by “Premio Comunità Forestali Sostenibili (a prize for good methods in valuing forest)”, organised by Legambiente and Italian PEFC. In addition, last spring, one of our harpsichord was used in “Concerti per ArchiIIIe Concerti per Viola d’Amore”, a new recording made by Accademia Bizantina and published on the 11st May 2018 by The Vivaldi Edition/Naïve classique.

What are the benefits for the FratelliLeita enterprise?

Today the FratelliLeita enterprise finds his own space in a brunch where in the last years an extraordinary decrease of orders has caused the closure of many important and famous enterprises. Thanks to the quality of our instruments, we have a very good quality/price ratio.

You are a model of Val Pesarina expertise. Are you glad?

We are very proud of being a reference point for our work. We would like also to help our land to be discovered, re-discovered and enhanced, together with the work of its inhabitants.

How will be FratelliLeita in 20 years?

It is difficult to say. We do our best to develop our enterprise in products and production processes, to create new working place, to pass down our knowledge to new generations and maybe to young members of Leita family… Today Samule throw down to us a new challenge: using the Lean thinking principles in our work. This philosophy aims at an uninterrupted improvement. We know that we will spend many other nights working in our atelier at the foot of Pesarine Dolomites employing wood that the Dolomites have been producing over centuries.




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